Dick Advocaat has confirmed that Seb Larsson, rather than hot prospect Duncan Watmore, will replace the injured Jeremain Lens for Sunderland’s Capital One Cup tie tomorrow night.
Summer signing Lens will not be risked against League Two Exeter City due to a minor knee problem, with Sunderland ensuring the Dutch international is fit for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
Last year, Larsson was the player of the year and he wasn’t in the team on Saturday, so he will playDick Advocaat
Watmore - who scored on his Premier League debut after coming off the bench 10 days ago - looked to be the natural replacement for Lens in Advocaat’s front three.
But the head coach says Watmore will be on the bench alongside Under-21 trio Lynden Gooch, Josh Robson and Max Stryjek, with Larsson - who was among the substitutes for Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Swansea - taking Lens’ spot.
Advocaat said: “Duncan will not start, but he will be on the bench, like Gooch, Robson, plus the goalkeeper.
“That will be four players from the Under-21s on the bench, so that’s a start.
“We cannot accept that Duncan can change this team.
“Last year, Larsson was the player of the year and he wasn’t in the team on Saturday, so he will play.”
Summer signing Adam Matthews will also be handed his first Sunderland start in place of fellow right-back Billy Jones, who won’t be risked after requiring stitches to a facial injury on Saturday.
But that is likely to be the extent of Advocaat’s changes, as he names a strong side.
“We won’t change much, because I think this is a great opportunity to get to know each other better,” he said.
“It was difficult in pre-season because not everyone was here, or in the right shape.
“Lens has a slight injury, so he won’t play.
“But the majority of the team from Saturday will play.
“Matthews will play because Jones had the stitches the other day.”
Back-up stopper Vito Mannone will miss out too, due to a minor injury, in a game where the Italian would have hoped to feature.
Advocaat added: “Vito has had some problems with his arm. He’s gone for a scan.
“It’s nothing serious, but it hasn’t been comfortable.”